HERITAGE & CULTURE

 

Photo © Polo Museale Fiorentino

THE VASARI CORRIDOR

Secret passage of the Medici

In the midst of Italy’s largest art collection, in the very heart of one of it’s premier galleries, an otherwise unremarkable doorway quietly obscures a small passage from public view.  It is here, in the renowned Uffizi that one knowingly or unknowingly encounters an entrance to the famous, yet very well concealed, Vasari Corridor.

Constructed in 1564, by Giorgio Vasari, the Corridor was built on the order of Cosimo I De' Medici.  The corridor provided great status plus very important benefits to the Medici Family.  First, it was a discreet passage between the Palazzo Pitti, the new grand-ducal residence on the other side of the river at Boboli Garden, with the political center of the city where the Grand Duke conducted his affairs.  And, in a time notorious for deadly conspiracies, the corridor offered a safe and a quick exodus in the event of rebellion.

In its original concept, the Corridor was intended to enter and pass through the houses of leading citizens of Florence.   However, this plan was opposed by a prominent family not disposed to the Grand Duke. Today, one can clearly see the effect their decision had on the eventual course of the passage.

The Corridor was completed in just six months, a considerable accomplishment considering the complexity of its route.  The Corridor begins at the Palazzo Vecchio, crosses Via della Ninna in the form of a covered bridge, traverses part of the Uffizi, and descends in long steps close to the river.  It then runs parallel to the river above a portico then crosses the Arno above the shops of Ponte Vecchio.  The Corridor continues to the Oltrarno district, passing in front of the facade of the church of Santa Felicita to reach the Boboli Gardens, and from there, Palazzo Pitti.

Beside the breathtaking views of the town visible from its round windows, the Corridor offers visitors an audience to 700 paintings, all dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries, and, unique among art treasures of the world, a collection of self-portraits of the most famous artists from the 16th to the 20th century.

Along the narrow passage one eventually confronts a large window looking on the inside of Santa Felicita Church.  Nearly concealed by grating, it is possible to imagine the Medici family attending Mass in this place, sheltered from public view in the privacy and safety their Corridor turned sanctuary. 

During the Second World War, the Corridor was used by Partisans as a secret passage for the movement of supplies.  During the floods of 1966 it was used as a route to bring provisions to evacuees from Pitti Palace to Palazzo Vecchio.  In 1973, the Corridor was restored and opened once again to the public.  However, this time access by visitors is restricted to academics and parties with reservations.

The Exceptional tour!
The Vasari Corridor or “Corridoio Vasariano” can be visited upon special request with an individual guided tour. Groups can be a maximum of 30 people. To enter the Corridoio Vasariano it is necessary to already have booked museum tickets to the Uffizi Gallery. Your guide will begin the tour in the Uffizi and proceed through the Corridoio Vasariano ending in Palazzo Pitti.

The tour lasts approximately three hours. Your guide will be waiting for you at door 4 at the reserved ticket desk. This is an exclusive tour only for you and your group. The doors to the Corridoio Vasariano will be opened for you when you arrive and closed behind you. From the windows of the corridor, crossing over the Ponte Vecchio, Florence can be admired from a unique and suggestive viewpoint.

The cost of this exceptional tour of the Corridoio Vasariano depends on the number of people that compose the group.  This tour of the Vasariano Corridoio does not include the entrance to Palazzo Vecchio.

Follow this link to access the official on-line form to request a guided tour of the Vasari Corridor

Exhibitions at the Uffizi Galleries